Power outage delays Royals-Tigers matchup
DETROIT -- Justin Verlander's effort to regain the lights-out pitching form he found a few weeks ago had to wait for the lights to come on at Comerica Park. An outage in a bank of lights over right field led to a 23-minute delay to the start of the Tigers' 5-4 win in 12 innings over the Royals in the series opener.
According to a statement from the Tigers, the problem came from a malfunction of the contact wire connecting from the lighting system to signal the light tower. The ballpark operations department had to manually reset the system, and was expected to replace the contact wire after the game.
Verlander, a notoriously routine-oriented pitcher, was warming up for the first pitch when the umpiring crew noticed the lights out and talked to manager Brad Ausmus. According to Rule 4,01(g), the umpire has the right to order the lights on to ensure safe play, even if darkness hasn't overtaken the sky.
"The umpire-in-chief shall order the playing field lights turned on whenever in his opinion darkness makes further play in daylight hazardous," the rule states.
That proved easier written than executed. The ballpark operations crew tried several times to turn on the lights, only to see bulbs flicker briefly and turn off. The Tigers had been on the road for the past week, with the ballpark used for a Zac Brown Band concert last Saturday.
Verlander, clearly unhappy with his routine broken and his arm cooling off, was pleading with umpires to start the game anyway, as was Ausmus, to no avail.
Eventually, Verlander walked off the mound and into the dugout, back onto the field, then to the clubhouse during the break. His defense, meanwhile, stayed on the field and waited, with first baseman Miguel Cabrera chatting with Royals first-base coach and former Tigers outfielder Rusty Kuntz for most of the delay.
Finally, another round of flickering turned the lights on, and they powered up quickly while Verlander warmed again. His first pitch to Alex Gordon came in around 7:31 p.m. ET.